Plans, interrupted.

 

First of all flying on an airplane is weird…

Think about it.

You’re in basically a metal tube with 30 rows of three people seat-belted in on either side, suspended (okay soaring) 40,000 feet above the surface of the earth with nothing below you but air.

Like I said. Kind of weird.

Now I sort of get why people have a fear of flying…

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For me the most fear-filled aspect of the solo trip I took was not the solo part of it. I’m really okay with being alone. As an extroverted introvert I love my “Me” time. It’s incredible. There’s space to just be. To think. To listen. To breathe. To analyze, plan, dream, scheme. I’m pretty good company for myself.

No… the part that gives me anxiety every time I think about it is… wait for it… the traveling.

Getting from here to there. Do I have my passport? Do I have my phone? What if there’s traffic getting to the airport? What if my mobile boarding pass won’t scan? What if my bag doesn’t fit in the overhead bin? What if my bags don’t arrive?! How do I know which track my train’s departing from? What if I miss my connection? What if I miss my flight?

So many “What if’s”! Makes me anxious just writing them.

Well one of these actually did happen to me – the very first part of my trip. Great way to kick things off, let me tell you…

I knew my connection was a little on the tight side when I booked the flight. 1.5hrs is not a lot of time between flights but it was definitely within the do-able range. Especially if I just had carry-on’s.

We were flying in to Milan from Corfu and I was going to just rip that people-bandaid off, waving goodbye as I basically ran onto a plane headed for Rome so that I could start my first solo day bright and early. This was the thought at least.

Well when easyJet informed me that my flight had been “moved up” by 30 minutes (leaving me now a one hour connection time) I was a little concerned.

I was, to put it mildly, freaking out when our flight from Corfu left 35 minutes late. It’s almost worse when there’s a tiny shred of hope that you could maybe still make it, versus the very clear “well you definitely missed that one” feeling.

As Ryan looked out the window, gazing at the beautiful Adriatic, I pressed the home button on my phone trying to calculate how many minutes I had before they “closed the gate” to my flight… The thing is nothing in Italy is on time (except for the high speed trains – those are precise to the second!), so were they really going to close the gate when they specified?

Ryan could tell how anxious I was – I got up twice during our hour long flight to “use the facilities” – and grabbing my hand away from my phone he pulled it into his.

“Let’s pray” he said with a smile.

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The thing is I actually had nothing to worry about…

I mean worst case scenario: I miss my flight. I book another one. Or maybe I take the train… Sure I lose some money. Sure it sucks. But it’s not like losing my passport, or a limb. Dramatic I know, but sometimes when your plans go awry it feels a bit like that doesn’t it? The world’s ending!!! Chest tightening. Head spinning. Emotions rising. Tears welling. Panic setting in.

What can end this nightmare rollercoaster that leaves you a puddle of bags and tears in the middle of Milan Malpensa’s Terminal 2?

Prayer.

Taking a moment to just stop. Stop the madness of worry and “what-ifs” that wiz through your brain and let it go. Let it all go. Give it over to God. He’s got a plan for all of it anyway. And knowing Him it’s WAY BETTER than any one I made. But I have to choose to believe this.

Then I count to ten (it just helps me to chill), and ask Him to show me what the real plan is! To give me His peace that doesn’t just pass all understanding, but provides clarity so that I can see which way He wants me to go.

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So what happened?

With my heart still pounding, I white-knuckled that “choice” to trust Him as the anxiety level seemed to rise with the plane’s descent.

And with the minutes ticking, ticking away my heart slumped as I saw the shuttle busses pull up next to our plane. There was an easyJet plane boarding right next to ours… probably the one I wanted to be on. So close, yet so far…

*So one thing to note about travel within Europe… it’s not like it is at home. You don’t just de-board your plane and then find your connecting gate. Depending on the airport they’ll get you off the plane and onto a bus. Then there’s a giant cattle call to the baggage claim where you pick up your bags (if you don’t have to go through Immigration first), exiting the terminal, only to re-enter once again. You find your new departure gate, go through security again, finally making it to your new gate.

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So the plan? Run. Elbowing our way through the sea of homecoming Italians we made it out of “Arrivals” and into “Departures.” Ryan next to me the entire time. And to be honest the thought of leaving him in this messy, chaotic way was tearing my heart in two.

Looking up at the reader board full of easyJet flights, we searched to find mine. Destination: Rome. Was it delayed? Was it boarding? Had it departed?!

Cancelled.

My entire body sighed as relief poured over. No hurried goodbyes. No hustling through security to a flight that might not be there. No waiting and wondering if I’d made it or not. The decision was made. And not even by me.

Let me just tell you, it’s always a good thing when God interrupts your plans!

With a full refund on my flight (which only happened because the airline cancelled on me), Ryan and I made our way over to the Hilton Hotel where he’d already had a room booked since his flight home was departing the next day.

We met up with Mike and Carolyn, my in-laws, in the hotel bar to have celebratory drinks and dinner, sharing photos and reminiscing on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

It was how it was supposed to end.

It was how it was supposed to begin.

Ryan walked me down to the train terminal that takes you to Milano Centrale (literally in the same building as the hotel), and we got to say our proper “See you in a few weeks.”

And off I went. To explore. No fear. Full of trust. Full of peace. Overflowing with excitement. Knowing that through it all I was in my Papa God’s hands, welcoming any and all of His perfect interruptions.

Till next time,

justJessika

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